Russian surveillance of Finnish and Estonian skies begins Sunday, according to comments by the Russian Defence Minister in the state daily Itar-Tass. The air surveillance flights are part of an international Open Skies agreement and routes have been settled in advance with Finnish and Estonian authorities.
Russian monitors will lift off an Antonov An-30B aircraft from the Helsinki-Vantaa international airport in Finland and will perform similar operations from the Tartu airport in Estonia.
Finnish and Estonian specialists will participate in the flights, where they will monitor surveillance equipment and ensure that the pilots abide by the conditions of the Open Skies treaty.
Altogether some 34 countries are signatory to the Open Skies treaty, which was formalised at the 1992 follow-up meeting in Helsinki of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE. The treaty came into force from the year 2002.
The treaty is predicated on the principle of full territorial openness and its intent is to monitor compliance with arms control agreements. It also aims to prevent the eruption of potential cross-border conflicts.
The surveillance flights will take place between July 14 and 20 in the air space of European countries, as well as Russia, Canada and the United States, and will be conducted by unarmed aircraft.